The free fall has always enticed me — the idea of completely letting go and the rush of adrenaline that forces every cell inside of you awake. My limbs buzz with anticipation, but as I get up to the edge, my feet become frozen in place. I am stuck, like I had walked into fixed cement, too afraid to make the jump I have been waiting for years to make. Panic fills me as I think about what is at stake and how much I could possibly lose.
And so I lock my feet in position and refuse to make any move at all. I sit down and cross my arms like a stubborn child. I try to pretend it isn't fear because I hate feeling weak, but the fear consumes me. It eats up every part of me. It surges through my veins achingly slow and fast all at once.
It's funny what fear does to a person — how it convinces you of things you've known your whole life are untrue. Fear makes you believe that you are weak. It makes you believe you are not enough.
And so I sit, stewing in my fear with tears streaming down my face. They blind my vision, making me see things that aren't really there. I cling to anything I can — any little piece of stronghold that is offered in my direction no matter how pitiful. I reach out many times and return with nothing but air, my fingers desperately trying to find the places that were always there for me to hold on to before.
I dig my heels in, trying to slow the inevitable pull towards the open door while hands pull me back away from it. I'm unsure which way to go. Should I stay or should I jump? The hesitation worries me, but the fear is still in control. I can feel myself slipping and sliding forward. My heartbeat speeds up in anticipation — and still I cry out that I need help, believing that I need someone else to pull me back and keep me there.
My panic mind believes I need solid ground. For the first time in as long as I can remember, the free fall terrifies me instead of excites me. The freedom that always called to me before now feels childish and unimportant. The familiar suffocation of panic sets in deeper.
Desperate attempts for the final foothold leave me feeling embarrassed and not like myself. The air around me closes in — wet, heavy and choking. I close my eyes like a coward, afraid to see what I know is coming — what is already here. I pray. And I pray. And I pray.
And when I make the decision to stay, finally feeling like I found a good place to hold on to, the hands that have been pulling me in give me a final, jolting push toward the open door. In the moment, it feels like a betrayal, but it is what I have been asking for all along. I needed a final push because I don't know if I would have made the leap on my own.
Maybe the fear of leaving a place of comfort and safety has a stronger power over me than I am willing to admit. But I finally let go. I stop grasping at everything and let it all slide through my open fingers.
I tumble into the free fall headfirst.
It immediately feels like a tailspin and I'm not sure I'll survive the fall. After a few moments, I am able to feel the warmth of the sun on my face and I instinctively open my eyes.
When I do, I can no longer see that place of comfort and safety — it is far behind me now — but I realize that the floor beneath my feet isn't as necessary as I believed it to be.
I don't know what awaits me at the end of this. I don't know if there's a bottom. I don't know if there's a soft surface waiting to catch me or if the hard ground is rushing up to meet me faster than I can anticipate, but right now I'm soaring and it's damn sure a beautiful ride.